Author: Elizabeth Kemigisha
On 3 May 2021, Uganda’s Parliament passed the Sexual Offences Act, 2021. This Act – which has been 21 years in the making – can be applauded for increasing protection and redress to survivors of sex-related crimes. The majority of MPs supported the Bill and its core purpose of combating sexual violence and consolidating laws of sexual offences, providing for punishment of perpetrators of sexual offenses, providing for procedural and evidential requirements during trial of sexual offences and other related matters. Many of the MPs agreed that if passed the Bill would fill the gaps that exist in the current laws making the legal framework more adequate and aligned with the international human rights standards that Uganda ascribes to. However, the final version of the Bill which was passed falls short of these international standards for the protection of human rights – and the rights of women in particular – on various fronts, including in its limited definition of rape, its failure to recognise marital rape and the criminalisation of false sexual accusations.